There have been many adaptations of the Nordic/Norse God legends. My first exposure to them was of course Marvel’s The Mighty Thor. As time and exposure have proven, the narratives in Marvel’s iconic comic took some diversions from the tales as told in the ancient Icelandic Edda literature. Which is generally considered to be the most detailed source for modern knowledge of Norse Mythology. It is this source that co-writers Cat Mihos and Ethan McQuerrey created Lore of the Hávamál. Along with artist and Norse Sage Jouni Koponen. In this lovingly crafted interpretation, the creators have told the story of Ragnarok and the preparations made in advance of the prophesy of the end the Gods and the renewal. Recently, I was very fortunate to talk to one of the co-creators Cat Mihos. When Cat isn’t writing great graphic novels, she is working with iconic comic writer Neil Gaiman and his company The Blank Corporation. With that kind of busy schedule as a backdrop, we are proud to welcome writer/creator Cat Mihos to GVN’s Talking Comics Interview.
GVN: Thanks for giving some of your time, Cat.
CM: Hello Geek Vibes Nation!
GVN: We always love to have our name dropped. We thank you for that. So, let’s talk a bit about your beginnings. When did you take an interest in writing and at what time did the comic books genre enter that equation?
CM: My older brother had MAD magazines and CREEPY/EERIE/HOUSE OF MYSTERY comics and I fell in love with all of them. I learned early on to tell stories with pictures, and had my first article-with-photos published when I was 19. That was a heady moment for me, to see my name in print, like a real writer…
GVN: Who were the writers or books that inspired you to pursue that possibility?
CM: I went on to have a magazine obsession, in particular Andy Warhol’s INTERVIEW- the giant format and the glorious photos gave me a view in to a world that a suburban DC kid could only dream of at the time. My Mom was a librarian so we spent a lot of time at our local library. I read Stephen King’s THE STAND at a very early age and always thought I would survive a pandemic! Alexandre Dumas was another huge influence for me, The Three Musketeers is such a satisfying read. When I found out that S.E.Hinton, author of THE OUTSIDERS was a teenage female, I felt the world shift with possibility.
Working with Neil Gaiman
GVN: Well, talk about learning something new everyday. I didn’t know that. I remember loving The Outsiders when we read it in school. Of course, you now work with one of the iconic voices in comics Neil Gaiman. How did that collaboration come about?
CM: After I graduated college, I started touring with different bands, from Britney Spears to Tool to Rob Zombie to Soundgarden. On a 2002 tour with Tori Amos, I saw that Neil was on the guest list and I was happy to tell him how many Sandman comics I cold-sold when I worked for Geppi’s Comics in Baltimore. He pulled out a galley of ENDLESS NIGHTS to show me that night, and we became friends. He called me a few years later when I was out with Mötley Crüe, to see if I would work for him. In between tours, I would drive him to meetings when he visited Los Angeles, and I feel that I got a free film/tv education by watching him give pitches. Neil is an incredibly generous creator, there is no one like him working across so many storytelling platforms. Fast forward to 2021, he has just made me VP of his production company The Blank Corporation. Never a dull moment working with Neil!
Lore of the Hávamál
GVN: I’m not sure what is cooler. The fact that you worked with so many iconic bands and performers or that you work with Neil. Pretty much both top out the “Cool Meter.” Your book Lore of the Hávamál is a fabulous telling of the stories of the Nordic and Viking Gods and their preparation for Ragnarok. I, for one, was unfamiliar with many of the details of this narrative, outside my fascination with Marvel’s Thor. The details are obviously much different than the Marvel comic book adaptation that I grew up with. How did you decide what aspects to include and how did the brilliant idea of making Odin a bartender come about?
CM: I also grew up reading the Thor comics, which zig and zag through the Norse myths. Jouni, who grew up in Finland, had a great deal to do with guiding the integrity of the story. As for Odin being a bartender, while on tour, we roadies visited bars across the globe and I always felt they were the keepers of the town stories in many ways. I thought it would be a storytelling device that we could keep expanding upon, and I always wished for a pair of ghost ravens to tell me vaulted secrets.
Collaborating with Jouni and Ethan
GVN: As a literary device, it worked brilliantly, so kudos for that. You worked with fellow writers Jouni Koponen and Ethan McQuerrey. How did that collaboration work and who was responsible for making sure the narrative’s interpretation followed that of the ancient Icelandic Edda literature on which it is based?
CM: Some of the beauty of the Hávamál for me is that it is greatly open to interpretation. I wasn’t raised with any particular religion so I have always been drawn to the mythology of gods and goddesses, and the guidelines of belief held within. (My Dad is Greek, so I would love to do a companion piece on the bonkers antics of the Pantheon of Hellas) To best answer your question however, Jouni was always the final say when we would start to go out of bounds on the interpretation!
GVN: Speaking of Jouni, the art for Lore of the Hávamál was also handled by the multi-talented Jouni Koponen along with colorist Dee Cunnifee. How exciting was it to see each page as your story came to graphic life?
CM: There were some days when the pages landed that I just couldn’t contain my shrieks of joy! With Jouni in Finland, Dee in United Kingdom and Eth and I in LA, it was a bit of time zone juggling- but we still had it easier in this age of technology than the comics of days gone by.
Follow the Vikings Project
GVN: Part of the details for Lore of the Hávamál came courtesy of The Follow the Vikings Project. What can you tell our followers about that project and its work in preserving Nordic Historic Culture?
CM: We were approached several years back by FTV to make a comic that would entice younger tourists to come visit the lands of the Vikings. The projects have worked through the challenges of our Covid times, and I hope they come back stronger than ever.
GVN: If we can ever shake this devil COVID, I’m sure it will. Can’t help but wonder if Loki is behind it all. Thanks for talking to us, Cat. Before I let you go, do you have any other projects coming that you can share with our followers and how can they follow you on social media?
CM: Thank you for your time, these were well-considered questions. My next thing out is a piece in the Z2 Joan Jett book. I take us back to the glam/hair metal eighties on Sunset Strip, I hope you get to see it. In addition, I am also working on a couple of new things, one is a touring heist story, and the other is a look at the afterlife of dogs and cats. I have more ideas than time to write lately, but slowly, things get out of my head and down on paper/laptop screen. What I am most looking forward to is the world seeing the Netflix Sandman, I cannot wait to be able to talk about it! Allan Heinberg, our glorious showrunner, has taught me so much about how to adapt a comic to a screen. My twitter is @Neverwear, and my Insta is @CatMihos. We run Neil’s official merch page: www.neverwear.net and The Blank Corporation is here: https://blankcorporation.com.
GVN: Needless to say, we too are excited about the Netflix Sandman Series. I have just finished the 2nd Chapter of the Sandman Audiobook series from Audible and it was fantastic. I know Netflix will do Neil’s work justice. You can find Lore of the Hávamál where great books are sold. If you are into the legends of the Nordic God’s, be sure to check it out.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 18 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.